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Distorted Performance Measures and Dynamic Incentives


  • Kaarbøe, Oddvar M.

    () (Programme for Health Economics (HEB), Department of Economics, University of Bergen)

  • Olsen, Trond E.

    () (Department of Finance and Management Science, Norwegian School of Economics and Business)


Incentive contracts must typically be based on performance measures that do not exactly match agents’ true contribution to principals’ objectives. Such misalignment may impose difficulties for effective incentive design. We analyze to what extent implicit dynamic incentives such as career concerns and ratchet effects alleviate or aggravate these problems. Our analysis demonstrates that the interplay between distorted performance measures and implicit incentives implies that career and ratchet effects have real effects, that stronger ratchet effects or more distortion may increase optimal monetary incentives, and that bureaucratic promotion rules may be optimal.

Suggested Citation

  • Kaarbøe, Oddvar M. & Olsen, Trond E., 2006. "Distorted Performance Measures and Dynamic Incentives," Working Papers in Economics 07/06, University of Bergen, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhs:bergec:2006_007

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Meyer, Margaret A. & Olsen, Trond E. & Torsvik, Gaute, 1996. "Limited intertemporal commitment and job design," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 31(3), pages 401-417, December.
    2. Meyer, Margaret A & Vickers, John, 1997. "Performance Comparisons and Dynamic Incentives," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 105(3), pages 547-581, June.
    3. Holmstrom, Bengt & Milgrom, Paul, 1991. "Multitask Principal-Agent Analyses: Incentive Contracts, Asset Ownership, and Job Design," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 7(0), pages 24-52, Special I.
    4. George Baker, 2002. "Distortion and Risk in Optimal Incentive Contracts," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 37(4), pages 728-751.
    5. Gibbons, Robert & Murphy, Kevin J, 1992. "Optimal Incentive Contracts in the Presence of Career Concerns: Theory and Evidence," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(3), pages 468-505, June.
    6. Baker, George P, 1992. "Incentive Contracts and Performance Measurement," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(3), pages 598-614, June.
    7. Gibbons, Robert, 1987. "Piece-Rate Incentive Schemes," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 5(4), pages 413-429, October.
    8. Wendelin Schnedler, 2003. "On the Prudence of Rewarding A While Hoping for B," The Centre for Market and Public Organisation 03/067, Department of Economics, University of Bristol, UK.
    9. Holmstrom, Bengt & Milgrom, Paul, 1987. "Aggregation and Linearity in the Provision of Intertemporal Incentives," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 55(2), pages 303-328, March.
    10. Fama, Eugene F, 1980. "Agency Problems and the Theory of the Firm," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 88(2), pages 288-307, April.
    11. Mathias Dewatripont & Ian Jewitt & Jean Tirole, 1999. "The Economics of Career Concerns, Part II: Application to Missions and Accountability of Government Agencies," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 66(1), pages 199-217.
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    Cited by:

    1. Dietrichson, Jens, 2013. "Coordination Incentives, Performance Measurement and Resource Allocation in Public Sector Organizations," Working Papers 2013:26, Lund University, Department of Economics.
    2. repec:spr:jlabre:v:38:y:2017:i:4:d:10.1007_s12122-017-9259-2 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item


    Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Compensation Packages; Payment Methods; Labor Management.;

    JEL classification:

    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness
    • J33 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Compensation Packages; Payment Methods
    • M54 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Personnel Economics - - - Labor Management


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